Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Sally 4th Photorealistic Pub

    Posted By on June 19, 2017

    The front of the Sally 4th pub

    Some weeks ago, I started work on this pub from Sally 4th.  When I originally ordered it, I ordered the photorealistic sheets for the interior, but not the wooden portions.  They arrived a week or two ago, so I spent Saturday completing the building.  I named my instance of the pub the Frog and Ferkin.

    The rear of the pub

    The first floor (Europeans) or second floor (for Americans). Note the details of wallpaper, flooring, and rugs.

    I am very pleased with the outcome of this this building.

    A view of the ground floor (Europeans) or first floor (Americans)

    This kit went together easily.  All the parts fit nicely.  The instructions were clear.  The only part that needed trimming was the order that goes between the two floors to provide a lip on which the top floor fits.  If you look closely in the picture below, you will see that I goofed it up a little.

    Another view of the ground floor (Europeans) or first floor (Americans)

    Another view of the ground floor (Europeans) or first floor (Americans). Note the detailed stairwell and fireplace.

    Greg is getting excited about Sea Lion scenarios, so I’m sure the Frog and Ferkin pub will soon be a scene of action.

    Reaper Bones III Space Soldiers

    Posted By on June 19, 2017

    Reaper Bones III Space Soldiers

    This weekend Chris’ Bones III Kickstarter set arrived.  I didn’t order the Kickstarter, but I added these figures to Chris’ order.  I got them from him on Friday and worked on them over Fathers’ Day.

    Japanese Cards for Combat Patrol(TM)

    Posted By on June 16, 2017

    I have begun to format the cards for the Japanese South Pacific supplement to Combat Patrol(TM): World War II.  The Action Deck is largely the same as the basic rules.  The difference will be in the morale section.  For the Japanese cards, the morale results are more unit type results and fewer individual results.  The graphics look more tropical as well.

    The South Pacific set will include three Action Decks.  For those who don’t want to buy the South Pacific set of Acton Decks, they can look up the serial number on the bottom of a card and index the result in a table in the South Pacific supplement.  Other than the cards, the South Pacific supplement will be a free download, like all the other supplements.

    Combat Patrol Games at NJ Con 2017

    Posted By on June 12, 2017

    Battle commences in a Caribbean port town during the War of 1812

    Several HAWKs (Duncan, Eric, Chris J., Zeb, and I) went to NJ Con (Fire in the East) this weekend to run and play some games.  To minimize the amount of terrain we needed to carry up there, we ran a series of scenarios in different historical periods on a the same terrain, with minor changes between games.

    War of 1812

    Duncan prepares to run with War of 1812 game using the Napoleonic supplement to Combat Patrol.

    The first was a War of 1812 game using the free Napoleonic supplement to Combat Patrol(TM).  The scenario involved an American force landing in a small, British-held, port town in the Caribbean.

    A British unit advances from a small building

    The Americans landed in small boats and then advanced inland to destroy the British supplies.  While the Americans got to the British supply room and started it on fire a couple of times, the British were able to put it out.

    The Americans got to this house and set up before I got there, even though I started closer to it. I charged up the stairs to try to take back the building -- but that didn't work out too well.

    The game was a lot of fun, and I think the scenario was pretty balanced, but in the end, the Americans left the table without successfully destroying the supplies.

    British defending the supplies, which were stored in the wooden building with canvas roof.

    British defending the supplies, which were stored in the wooden building with canvas roof.

    American sailors on the beach.

    Moros in the Philippines

    Our second game on this table was a Moro assault on an American-defended village in the Philippines.  For this game, I left the terrain exactly as we had for the War of 1812 game.  Where the Americans attacked British from the beach, the Moros attacked from the opposite edge of the table, swarming out of the jungle.

    The Moro game is about to begin!

    The Moros had to attack out of the jungle, burn the same supply hut, and capture livestock.  In the lower right of the picture above, you can see that the Americans had a small field gun, but the crew was asleep in one of the buildings when the attack began.  They had to rush to the gun before they could fire it.  The gun was able to knock out the Moro gun by the end of the game.

    Moros swarmed over the village.

    The American force consisted of two squads of infantry, a squad of Moro Constabulary, and a squad of Filipinos.  The Moros had 12 teams of infantry and a black-powder improvised gun.  The American players felt like the Moros were swarming over them, and there were a number of nail biting moments.  While Eric’s Moros got to the supply hut, they were unsuccessful in lighting the supplies on fire.

    Pass of the North Moros advance out of the jungle.

    For this game, I used Combat Patrol(TM): World War II with few modifications.

    Crazy carnage in the jungle

    Crazy carnage in the jungle

    The Moros had few rifles, but they were really good in hand-to-hand combat, so the Moro players spent a lot of time trying to close with the Americans.  I also gave the Moros and extra +1 in hand-to-hand when they charged with spears.  The Moros generally did well in hand-to-hand combat, but there were some upside down moments when two Moros ganged up on a single American but lost the combat anyway.

    More Moros?! How many are there?

     Wild West

    The third game was a wild west shoot-em-up using Zeb Cook’s recently-released Wild West supplement.

    Eric and Jeff preparing to begin the carnage.

    For this game we added a few more buildings, replaced the palm trees with cacti, and changed up the “set dressings.”  I think the town looked convincingly southwestern.

    Howard Whitehouse preparing to enter the dynamite, coal oil, and whiskey storage shed!

    In Zeb’s town there was apparently a desperado convention being held.  The figures standing on the poker chips had a price on their head equal to the value of the chip.  There were four teams of bounty hunters competing to collect the most bounties.  In addition, each of us had a price on our head, so there was a lot of incentive to shoot each other as well.  Wild and wooly mayhem ensured.

    Advancing into the Cantina to gun down an outlaw -- and perhaps stop for a whiskey.

    I think in these pictures you can see that changing up a few items made the town convincing for different historical periods.

    No Western town is complete without a gallows.

    Richard Sharpe with Blood and Swash

    In addition to our three Combat Patrol(TM) games, Eric ran a Sharpe in the Peninsula game, using Blood and Swash.  A memorable moment came when Harper fired his volley gun and killed both Hakeswell and Sharpe.

    You can see from these pictures that swapping out the cacti with some deciduous and palm trees and removing much of the wild west set dressing made the town look like the Peninsula.

    Riflemen advance...

    Combat Patrol(TM) Wild West Supplement

    Posted By on June 3, 2017

    Join “Hoppy,” California Carlson, and “Lucky” in welcoming the addition of a Wild West supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): World War II.  This supplement, written by “Zeb” Cook is available as a free download from the Combat Patrol Web page.

    Recent play test game of the Wild West supplement involving bands of desperadoes hunting for the bounties on each others' heads.

    With this supplement you can run games involving gangs of desperadoes, ranchers, larger-than-life heroes, stampeding animals, and posses.  Like all the other free supplements, the Wild West supplement uses the streamlined and intuitive mechanics of Combat Patrol(TM) but adds optional rules for period flavor.

    Combat Patrol(TM) at Historicon 2017

    Posted By on June 1, 2017

    There will be many Combat Patrol(TM): WWII games at Historicon.  Make sure you sign up for one of these games and don’t miss the excitement of playing these terrific skirmish rules.

    T-184 Late to the Party Theme

    World War II; 3 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Eric Schlegel; Scale: 20mm; Rules: Combat Patrol; No. of Players: 7.

    12 June 1940. A month after the German invasion of France, the Italians finally declared war and began sending troops through the mountain passes. On the 12th an advance force supported by light armor encountered a French border force near the village of au Coeur des Tanbres. Players under 13 welcome with a playing adult.

    F-186 Slogging Through the Bocage

    World War II; 9 AM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Buck Surdu; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): World War II; No. of Players: 6.

    As part of a battalion attack, a platoon of US infantry slogs its way through rows of bocage and fields. Their mission: seize the farmhouse in the distance and open up the road for the advance of the tanks. What is behind the next hedge? What is that diesel sound? Is it a tank? Could it be one of ours or one of theirs?  Combat Patrol(TM) features an intuitive and streamlined, card-based mechanic for resolving combat. Fight the game, not the rules.

    F-305 Slogging Through the Bocage, part 2 Theme

    World War II; 7 PM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Buck Surdu; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): World War II; No. of Players: 6.

    As part of a battalion attack, a platoon of US infantry slogs its way through rows of bocage and fields.  Their mission: seize the farmhouse in the distance and open up the road for the advance of the tanks. What is behind the next hedge? What is that diesel sound? Is it a tank? Could it be one of ours or one of theirs? Combat Patrol(TM) features an intuitive and streamlined, card-based mechanic for resolving combat. Fight the game, not the rules.

    F-169 First Battle of Pomme du Terre – 1918

    World War I; 7 PM; Length: 4 hrs; Hosted by: Duncan Adams; Scale: 25mm; Rules: Combat Patrol; No. of Players: 6.

    In the waning days of the Great War retreating German troops fight a rear-guard action in a French village against relentless Americans pursuit.

    S-306 Action at Pomme du Terre, 1940

    World War II; 9 AM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Buck Surdu; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): World War II; No. of Players: 6.

    The Nazi juggernaut has pushed across the Meuse River. A platoon of French infantry is cut off in the village of Pomme du Terre. Their last orders before the radio cut out were to hold the village and its important crossroad as long as possible. Lightly armed and under strength, the platoon begins to prepare its defenses when they hear the unmistakable sound of diesel engines in the distance. It won’t be long now! Combat Patrol(TM) features an intuitive and streamlined, card-based mechanic for resolving combat. Fight the game, not the rules.

    S-307 Action at Pomme du Terre, 1944

    World War II; 1 PM; Length: 3 hrs; Hosted by: Buck Surdu; Scale: 28mm; Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): World War II; No. of Players: 6.

    The Allies are advancing across central France. An armored infantry platoon from the Big Red One is ordered to seize the village of Pomme du Terre and its important road junction to prepare the way for a lightning advance by their battalion the next morning. The German Lieutenant has been ordered to hold the road junction as long as possible, and he has been reinforced with assets from his parent Kampfgruppe. Will the Americans dig them out of the town or fail in the attempt.  Combat Patrol(TM) features an intuitive and streamlined, card-based mechanic for resolving combat. Fight the game, not the rules.

    Milk and Cookies Naval Rules

    Posted By on May 23, 2017

    The HAWKs have been putting on land battles under the banner Armies for Kids for several years.  We run a game at Historicon and then when it is over, the kids (under 10 years old) take home fully painted armies, rules, dice, tape measures, and often some terrain pieces to play the game at home with their buddies.  This year, in addition to a Franco Prussian war 15mm project, we also put together a naval project.

    Using dollar store wooden sailing ship kits each kid will be issued two assembled and painted boats.  They will then select from a stack of sails to personalize and attach to the masts.  When the game is over, they will take home a box with the rules, dice, measuring sticks, their two boats, plus two more to decorate at home.

    If you want to try out the rules, they are posted here:  http://www.bucksurdu.com/Personal/documents/MilkAndCookiesNavalRules_v1.pdf

    Action at Murrell Bridge – The Refight

    Posted By on May 22, 2017

    The recent issue of Wargames Illustrated magazine included an article about Greg Priebe’s Falkland War supplement for Combat Patrol(TM).  The editors omitted Greg’s name as one of the co-authors of the article.  For space reasons, the section of the article that described the refight of the included Murrell Bridge scenario was not included in the magazine.  Below is the information about the re-fight.

    Overview of the Murrell Bridge table

    Chris Abby and his son, Lewis, have played quite a few Combat Patrol(TM) games over the last year, including WW2 Normandy and Pacific.  They have also play tested the recently released Horse and Musket supplement with the 95th Rifles fighting those pesky French Dragoons.  They wanted to see how Combat Patrol(TM) would work for 1980s combat.  Most of the games they played involved reinforced platoons.  The refight of Murrell Bridge is an action of the section commanders war, where every shot really counted.

    Lewis commanded the section from 3 Para, and Chris took the Grupos Tiradores from the Argentinean Commando Company. The Paras deployed the GPMG team and two rifles forward covering the approach to Murrell Bridge with Alpha fire-team deployed in their assembly area.  The Argentinian’s approached the British positions from the east, fanned out with a fire team either side of the road.

    The engagement took place at night, so all units started the game ‘un-spotted.’ The Paras and the Argentinean officer, section commander, and Automatic Riflemen had second generation night vision sights, and there was a half moon. This made spotting range 24 inches. At this range infantry in the open were spotted automatically, and a spotting test could be made against those in cover. The Paras’ sentries detected the advancing Commando’s as they ran for cover and successfully engaged the section on their right flank.

    The Paras incapacitated the Commandos’ section commander, resulting in that team becoming pinned. This halved that team’s effectiveness. The Paras that had opened fire then became a target, as the night fighting rules allow speculative shooting at muzzle flashes (at a greatly reduced probability).  As one of the folks in our club likes to say, it is bad being everyone’s only target.  All of the Argentineans that could do so fired at Bravo fire-team, causing one Para to flee and the rest to shift position.

    On the Paras’ left flank, the Argentineans rushed forward and flung themselves into the stream bed, taking casualties on the way.  The Paras used reaction fire to interrupt their movement in the open. During this fire and maneuver, L/CPl Fisher became a casualty, pinning Para Bravo fire-team. Having achieved a firm base of fire on their right flank in the stream bed, the Argentinean Commandos advanced on their left flank, making best use of available cover. The Paras took every opportunity to interrupt movement and engage the enemy in the open. A fierce fire-fight continued with the outcome very much in the balance.

    When the game had ended, the Argentineans had managed to dislodge the Paras from their positions, but had not managed to capture a prisoner for interrogation, so in the final analysis it was a marginal victory for the Paras and very similar to the actual outcome on the night. The Argentineans had patrolled aggressively and had dislodged the Paras from their positions, but they had suffered very heavy casualties in the process.  Chris and Lewis really enjoyed the game and look forward to reversing roles and playing again.

    Greg’s Falkland War supplement provides a very good Falklands feel.  The supplement is a free download from the Combat Patrol(TM) Web page:  http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html.

    How to Make a Space Ship

    Posted By on May 21, 2017

    Space tank and some alien infantrymen coming out of a transport ship.

    In a previous post I showed a work in progress of some silver space ships that are meant to be evocative of the ship from The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    Transport and scout flying saucers

    A few folks have asked for some more details on how they were constructed.

    I started with a microwave steamer meal.  After eating the meal, the outer bowls went through a cycle in the dishwasher to make sure they were thoroughly cleaned.

    I used a paper plate that matched the diameter of these bowls for the lower hull.  The bottom of the bowl, which will be the top of the space ship, has moulded writing on it.  I cut a piece of stiff cardboard from a microwave popcorn box to match the diameter of the top of the ship.  I tried card stock and other materials, but even when I sprayed both sides of the top piece, it still seemed very susceptible to warping due to gluing and humidity.  Best would probably have been sheet styrene, but I didn’t have any large sheets of it handy.

    The three main pieces of the space ship body.

    The feet of the space ship were made of a washer, a disk magnet, an end to a coaxial cable.  I was able to get a pack of ten of these cable ends at Lowe’s for a couple of dollars.  I glued three washers to the bottom of the paper plate.  This was so that the legs could securely connect to the bottom of the ship but were removable for storage.

    Space ship legs before painting.

    Then I took all the parts outside and sprayed everything black.

    After the black paint had dried, everything was sprayed silver.

    In the picture (above), you can see that I cut a doorway in one of the space ship upper hulls.  In the picture (below), you can see three legs attached magnetically to the bottom of the ship.

    Lets magnetically attached to a lower hull.

    The final space ships are not glued together.  By keeping all the parts separate, I can easily disassemble them and nest them for storage.

    Two views of the final space ships are below with one of Mark Morin’s space tanks and some 28mm Slave2Gaming aliens for scale.

    I like the look of the open hatchway and the ramp made of think card.

    Combat Patrol(TM) at NJCon

    Posted By on May 17, 2017

    NJ Con will be held on 9-10 June in New Jersey.  A number of the HAWKs are going to head up to run a few games.  Among the games we are taking up there are three Combat Patrol(TM) games.

    Zeb Cook is running a cowboy game using his under-development Wild West variant of Combat Patrol(TM): World War II.  Various factions battle it out in a wild west town.

    Duncan Adams will run a War of 1812 game using his recently released black powder era supplement for Combat Patrol(TM).  This scenario is set in a small Caribbean coastal village.  The Americans land in the village to push out the British.

    I will be running a US vs. Moros game, set in a coastal village in the Philippines.

    Come and experience the streamlined mechanics of Combat Patrol.   Cards are used to resolve combat, not just manage activation.  A card draw takes the place of calculating a bunch of modifiers, rolling some dice, and then looking up a result on a table.  The result is that you can fight the game, not the rules.  Check out the rules’ Web page for demonstration videos, free downloads, and other information.

    See you there!